Bolton and Middlesbrough met in the 2004 League Cup Final held at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium. Known at the time as the Carling Cup, the game took place on a Sunday afternoon in late February in front of 72,634 supporters.
Bolton's path to the Final brought about wins over Walsall, Gillingham, Liverpool, Southampton and Aston Villa, whilst Middlesbrough defeated Brighton & Hove Albion, Wigan, Everton, Spurs and Arsenal.
Bolton, at the time, were under the stewardship of legendary manager Sam Allardyce. On the cusp of a golden era which saw qualification for the UEFA Cup and regular top eight finishes in the league, we went into the game as slight favourites. Reading the team back only serves to remind one of the unbelievable quality we had:
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt (Giannakopoulos 87), N'Gotty, Thome, Charlton, Frandsen (Pedersen 63), Campo, Okocha, Nolan (Javi Moreno 78), Djorkaeff, Davies.
Subs not used: Poole, Barness.
Booked: Frandsen, Campo.
Middlesbrough, managed by former Manchester United assistant and future England boss Steve McLaren boasted a side full of recognisable names including ex-Wanderer Michael Ricketts.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Mills, Ehiogu, Southgate, Queudrue, Mendieta, Boateng, Doriva, Zenden, Juninho Paulista, Job (Ricketts 65).
Subs not used: Jones, Riggott, Maccarone, Downing.
Booked: Boateng, Ricketts.
Middlesbrough took the lead inside two minutes from a tap-in by Joseph-Desire Job after a Zenden cross. It was, however, at least early enough to get back into the game - or so I thought at the time.
Five minutes later Middlesbrough were 2-0 ahead through a Zenden penalty after Emerson Thome brought down Job. Now here's where things got controversial. For one thing, it was never a penalty. Job dived. For another thing, referee Mike Riley made a colossal mistake with the taking of the spot-kick.
Zenden slipped just before making contact with the ball - striking it twice before it hit the net - leaving Jussi Jaaskelainen with little chance to make the save, and Middlesbrough found themselves two up.
The fans were left in shock by such early blows, however, former Bradford keeper Schwarzer then handed Bolton a path back into the game after just 21 minutes with a mistake of his own. Kevin Davies received the ball on the right side of the box, and with virtually no support he took a punt at goal though the shot lacked power.
Incredibly, the ball bobbled just in front of Schwarzer and slipped through his arms to sneak inside the post, and Bolton had a way back into the game. I clearly remember some fans missing the goal, thinking instead that it had struck the side netting and celebrations were somewhat embarrassed before the game restarted.
We went close in the first half when Jay-Jay Okocha skimmed the bar with a free-kick, though Schwarzer went on to make excellent saves in the second half to deny Youri Djorkaeff from close range after midfielder Per Frandsen had hit the post with a right footed shot.
In search of an equaliser, Bolton were wasteful in front of goal with midfielder Kevin Nolan wasting a gilt-edged header in the second half.
Middlesbrough concentrated on holding onto their lead, though Mendieta and Michael Ricketts - were denied by Jaaskelainen late on, and Bolton substitute Stelios Giannakopoulos' shot deflected wide off Ugo Ehiogu's shoulder.
Bolton had the majority of the ball in the second half but couldn't find a goal. Riley blew his whistle and Middlesbrough had won their first piece of silverware - breaking Bolton hearts in the process.